With the “fall back” clock change coming soon, one thing makes me especially grumpy and confused.
Last March, the Senate passed a bill that would make daylight saving time a year-round standard and end the “fall back” and “spring forward” clock changes that make Americans even groggier and crabbier than we usually are.
But the bill has not advanced.
Daylight saving time (DST), which ends Nov. 6, has been agitating me every fall and spring for my entire life.
First tried for seven months in 1918, says wikipedia, DST was used for a full year for the first time during World War II. It was used again in 1973 in a bid to reduce energy usage because of an oil embargo, then repealed a year later.
As I reported a year ago, the jarring shift to our daily sleep patterns and routines each fall and spring is linked to an increase in heart attacks, strokes or automobile accidents.
In March, when our clocks “spring forward,” hospitals report a 24% spike in heart attack visits around the U.S.
The reverse happens in the fall when clocks are set back. Heart attack visits to hospitals drop by 21% — but pedestrian deaths increase because it gets dark earlier.
Finally, last March, some of our political leaders in the Senate took a break from spending money we don’t have to do something about an actual issue that matters.
The Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act to “make daylight saving time permanent starting in 2023, ending the twice-annual changing of clocks in a move promoted by supporters advocating brighter afternoons and more economic activity,” according to Reuters.
You’d think the House and the president would jump on such a concept since ending the clock change is something 71% of Americans agree upon.
The trouble is, there is little agreement on how to end the clock change.
CNN cites a poll from late 2019 that found three things:
• 31% of Americans prefer daylight saving time so that we have more light later in the day at the expense of darker mornings — which is apparently bad for our biological circadian clock, according to Universal Sci, and that will cause us to get less healthy sleep.
• 40% prefer standard time so that we have more sun in the morning, at the expense of the sun going down earlier in the evenings, which Universal Sci says is much better for restful sleeping.
• 28% prefer we keep changing our clocks back and forth, as these self-serving people are clearly in the coffee or auto-body repair business.
Frankly, I’m not sure if I prefer 12 months of DST or standard time, just so long as we don’t have to change clocks twice a year.
Because while we humans may finally adjust to the forced time changes each year, my dog, Thurber, never will. (If you want to see a talking dog, Thurber explains why at www.ThurbersTail.com!)
Our household is built upon his Labradorian clock, which demands he is fed breakfast and let out to do No. 1 and No. 2 at the very same time every single morning — or my carpet may be at risk of an unpleasant experience.
When I try to explain to Thurber why human beings think they can manipulate time and light, he looks at me like the human race is clearly less sensible than a typical canine.
And he’s right.
If dogs ran Congress, we wouldn’t have to switch our clocks every spring and autumn.
Tom Purcell, creator of the infotainment site ThurbersTail.com, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at Tom@TomPurcell.com